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Business recovery planning: How your local accountants can help your business get back on track

What is business recovery planning?

Business recovery plans are the plans used by the operational teams of a business following an incident which affects their ability to operate normally. They usually consist of contingencies for core processes, plant and assets, business partners and human resources. They also include (but are much more comprehensive than) disaster recovery plans for information systems. Their main goal is to facilitate business continuity. 

Why is a business recovery strategy high on today’s agenda?

Business recovery planning covers all sorts of unforeseen events, from fires to floods to terrorist attacks, and therefore the plan is usually very broad in its scope. Where the assumption is a physical set back of some kind (like a flood or a fire), the business recovery strategy employed will be around buildings, equipment, etc.

However, the impact of COVID-19 has put many businesses, large and small, into positions where they have been trading at levels far lower than those required to make a profit – in some cases businesses in industries like hospitality have had to temporarily shut down. In both cases, although the government has been supporting the wage bill through furlough, rent and other overheads have still been outgoing costs which have had to be covered in the meantime and businesses that are still operational have had to completely adjust working practices.

If you didn’t have a business recovery strategy in place before Covid, it may be that you’re thinking about putting one in place for future contingencies.

When should business recovery planning be put in place?

Realistically, as soon as possible after the event in question. It’s a potentially complex and wide-ranging strategy that can cover things as simple as where people can work from in lieu of the usual office space availability and getting business insurance claims started, through to IT backups, failover sites (digital and physical) and supplier failure contingency.

Where do accountants fit in with your business recovery strategy?

Having an accountancy business in place and ready to support you when you need it most is critical not only to ensure business continuity during what may be a financially tough time, but will also give you peace of mind that someone who knows your business is there to help. Accountants will be able to help with the following areas:

  • Cash flow modelling and forecasting
  • Cost reduction recommendations
  • Securing additional Time to Pay through HMRC
  • Sourcing alternative finance options
  • Overall health check and solvency review

How Kirkwood Wilson Accountants can help in your business recovery planning

As local accountants who specialise in healthcare and construction – including CIS – we have an in-depth knowledge of the kinds of issues that can arise in your industry and the types of support that you will need to get your business back on track.

We work closely with our clients to ensure we understand where your skills lie and where you might need us to step in during an emergency. For more information on how we can help your business recovery strategy take shape, get in touch on 01704 546 000 or email [email protected].

Why your small business needs an accountant

You might be mistaken into thinking that as a small business, you are able to manage your own accounting and bookkeeping. However, as with any business, whether small or a start-up, the aim is always to grow. By enlisting an accountant, you can focus on the growth of your business whilst they handle all the paperwork. Read on to find out more about why your small business needs an accountant.

What do we mean by small business?

Of the 5.5million registered businesses in the UK, over 99% of them are classified as a small to medium-sized business. These small businesses and start-ups cover a whole range of useful and luxury goods, or services and experiences. However, small businesses have a number of defining characteristics that help to identify them as a small business. 

To be legally identified as a small business, your organisation must consist of less than 50 employees, with a turnover of less than £10,000,000 annually. A micro business is a little bit smaller than that, with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than £2,000,000 annually. 

What a small business accountant can do for your business

In the UK, company accounts must be submitted to Companies House every single year, regardless of whether your company has been active or dormant in the last 12 months. Your accounts must be registered with Companies House within 9 months of the last Accounting Reference Date, also known as the ARD. This is usually the anniversary of the last calendar day of the month your company was registered. So, for example, if your business was registered with Companies House in January, your accounts must be filed with Companies House in the following September. 

If you run a small business, or you are self-employed, an accountant can bring considerable advantages. We’ve listed a few of the top ones below. 

An accountant helps you handle growth

As a small business, your aim is likely to be that you want to grow your business sustainably. By hiring an accountant, they will be on hand to help you handle these growth transitions, such as hiring new employees or moving to new locations. Your small business accountant will be on hand to look after the finer details of your businesses growth, such as payroll, employee tax management, property taxes, utilities and so much more. This frees up a considerable amount of your time to run your business.

To improve your cash flows

The old saying goes, “cash is king” and in business, this couldn’t be any more true. Cash is the fuel that will keep your business running and without proper control of your cash flow, you cannot make the critical business decisions necessary to keep your business running. 

Having a good small business on hand will help you to ensure that you have good credit control and cash management policies. For example, say your business offers services or goods on a 30-day payment term. By hiring an accountant, they can work to keep your business on top of your finances and ensure that you have good credit control with your customers paying on time. 

Reduce your workload

Understandably, you will want to focus your time on the day to day running of your business rather than spending your precious time and resources on bookkeeping and compliance. This is where an accountant comes in handy.

Let’s say, for example, that you run an Amazon business dealing in technology. Business is booming and you need to ramp up your resources to keep up with demand. This is where an accountant that specialises in accounting for Amazon sellers will come in handy. They can handle all of the day to day running of your business bookkeeping whilst keeping up to date with tax and company compliance. 

They provide valuable business advice

When you choose the correct accountant, they will also be able to serve as a valuable resource for business advice. Carrying with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from dealing with companies and clients from all walks of life, an accountant will be well versed in most of the problems and challenges you may encounter in your business. 

As a result, they are a brilliant resource for sound boarding ideas off and providing valuable business advice. For example, imagine you have a small food takeout business that is booming in popularity. So much so, that you consider opening a new location in another town. Your accountant will be on hand to help advise you on the potential challenges and pitfalls you may face as a business owner looking to expand, to help eliminate some of that risk. 

They help you to process payroll

Businesses with employees need to operate payroll effectively and in-line with proper payroll regulations to ensure that employees are treated fairly and legally. By not complying with payroll regulations, your business could face huge fines and backdated tax bills that may ultimately lead to the collapse of your business. 

By hiring an accountant to handle payroll for you, your business will not fall foul of payroll regulations, leaving you with one less thing to worry about. 

To help measure your businesses performance

Oftentimes, business performance is neglected by small business owners, as is setting timely and measurable business objectives. It has been suggested that approximately 90% of startups fail because they fail to keep on top of their objectives and measure these against their performance. However, an accountant will help you to understand your business’s performance that will enable you to effectively plan your business growth moving forward. 

They keep you up to date with tax and compliance regulations

By hiring a business accountant, they will help you stay up to date with the very latest in tax legislation and other regulations. In doing so, your accountant will help you from falling foul of legislation that may affect your business and cash flow should you encounter large fines and tax bills. 

As an example, perhaps you are struggling to keep on top of your accounts and taxes, with HMRC stepping in due to large unpaid corporation tax bills. In this instance, your business will most likely incur large fines and backdated tax bills. However, by having a small business accountant in place, you can avoid this issue altogether as they file your company accounts annually and calculate your tax bills. 

Find a small business accountant

You can see why it is so important to find a small business accountant to help you grow your business, whilst also managing your accounts and ensuring that you keep up to date with the latest tax legislation and compliance. 

When you are looking for a business accountant, it is important to not just consider the cost to your business. You need to also consider the service they are providing and how good their customer service is. It is vital that you feel comfortable enough to be able to have frank business discussions with your small business accountants about the future of your business and they must understand the nature of your business to help you operate effectively.

Consider all of these factors when looking for your first small business accountant and watch your business flourish with their support.

The importance of bookkeeping when selling on Etsy

During the past year, the percentage of retail sold through ecommerce platforms like Etsy rose from less than 20% to well over 35%. In the course of a single year that’s a phenomenal change, and it’s thanks to the entrepreneurial, open-minded makers and crafters who were able to take up that challenge and move their goods online during the toughest of conditions that we have been able to continue to send beautiful gifts and treat one another even in the hardest of times.

However, along with the creative side of doing business online comes an aspect that some of us are less keen on – accounting. It will do you no favours to simply stick your head in the sand when it comes to bookkeeping, so we take a look at the importance of bookkeeping for Etsy sellers, what support is available, and what you can expect from an Etsy accountant.

Why is bookkeeping for Etsy sellers so important?

Bookkeeping for any business, large or small, ecommerce or face-to-face, is important because it allows you to keep track of day-to-day financial transactions like sales and purchases. However, what sets apart the kind of business done over ecommerce platforms like Etsy is the speed at which these processes take place; goods are bought and shipped in a matter of hours in many cases, with purchases then immediately made to maintain stock levels. Below are just some of the reasons why bookkeeping is so important for Etsy sellers:

Keep track of income and outgoings

In order to understand what money you are making and spending and to keep a control on that expenditure day-to-day, you need to ensure that you are keeping track of those movements. Software such as Xero is designed specifically with bookkeeping for Etsy sellers and other ecommerce platforms in mind; it integrates directly with ecommerce stores so that the tracking of finances is smooth and automated, and you can access that information at any time and from anywhere via an app. 

Manage cash flow

As a small business, cash flow is equally as important as – if not more important than – profit. Whilst one of the key reasons for being in business is profitability in the long-term, if your cash-flow doesn’t enable you to pay your suppliers or workers, you won’t stay in business very long. Bookkeeping allows you to keep control over your cash flow, make sure that you are receiving money when you expect to, purchase stock only as you need it and pay your suppliers at a time that gives you the best chance of success.

Analyse successes and capitalise on them

Bookkeeping, for Etsy sellers just like all other small businesses, helps to inform you of what is going right and where you could improve. If you track when you sell goods, how much profit you make and from which product lines into which market areas, you can start to track what works for your business and what you should do more of. If you choose to work with a management accountant, Etsy, combined with the information from your cloud accountancy package, will provide them with all the data they need to be able to analyse which areas to invest in, expand on and promote, as well as enable you to forward plan for the future. 

If you are looking for an Etsy accountant who can support you in growing and managing your business, Kirkwood-Wilson Accountants are experienced in bookkeeping for Etsy sellers; we are Xero Gold Partners and can support you in the set-up and installation of a cloud accountancy tool as well as providing you with accountancy services to fit your needs longer term.

If you want to feel like you are in control of your business but with the support of an experienced Etsy accountant, get in touch with us for a chat about your business on 01704 546 000 or email [email protected].

Selling online? Why you need our ecommerce accounting services

Setting up your own online business is exciting! Finding out what works for your customers and watching your turnover grow over time, not to mention the many benefits in terms of managing your own time and making your own decisions, can be exhilarating. However, the idea that we have to suddenly become experts in every area of business – from marketing and sales to accounting and employment law – can be daunting.

The most effective way to run a business is to try to understand the basic requirements of every area of your business, match those with your own abilities, and outsource the bits that don’t fit with your skills, your time or your passion. The great thing about ecommerce accounting services is that, done properly, you can choose exactly which areas of your finances you want to outsource and keep the rest for yourself. We take a look at some of the benefits of using an experienced ecommerce accountant and how we could help your business grow.

How do you start your own ecommerce business?

Before we get down to the benefits of using an experienced ecommerce accountant, we thought we better start with the basics. How exactly do you start your own ecommerce business?

Firstly you need a product or a service. Once you have this, there are plenty of tools online to help you get set up to start selling across a range of platforms, including Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. 

One of the most important things to consider when setting up your own ecommerce business, is to get everything you need in place from the start. We are seeing more and more ecommerce business men and women who are supplementing their full time job with income from their ‘side-hustle’. With this comes the potential for nasty tax bills in the future, especially if you’re already close to the higher-rate tax threshold in your ‘normal’ job.

Organising an ecommerce accountant from the very start can not only help you avoid expensive tax bills, but they can also help you with business advice including cash flow management, setting budgets and giving you the tools you need to help your business grow. 

The benefits of using an experienced ecommerce accountant

Now we understand the importance of having that accountancy support right from the start, let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of having an experienced ecommerce accountant in place for your business.

Keep control of your finances

We’re not suggesting you hand over your accounts (and therefore your financial control) to someone else. Quite the opposite, in fact. We believe that all business owners should feel completely in control of their finances, whether you are running a multi-million pound manufacturing business or a sole trader ecommerce business selling handmade goods from your kitchen.

One of the great advantages of employing ecommerce accounting services which are designed specifically for businesses like yours is that, when used properly, you have access to, and total control over, your own business’ finances. 

Have full visibility of your business’ finances

One of the fantastic changes that accountancy has seen over the past decade is the development of excellent cloud accountancy packages which can be fully integrated with your ecommerce store and provide you with the tools you need to run your business and your finances seamlessly. 

We recommend that you choose a package like Xero, which provides an app so that you can manage your finances on the move, as well as giving you a solution that will track sales, costs and inventory so that you can take care of all your key financial aspects in one place. You can then choose how much intervention and support you want from your ecommerce accounting service provider, and that’s where ecommerce accountants like Kirkwood-Wilson come into our own; our expertise in digital accounting combined with experience in supporting small business owners of ecommerce sites means that we understand just how much flexibility you need. 

Create your own financial support package

It may be that you’re looking for ecommerce accounting services that will support you from the outset, assisting with setting up your cloud-based accounting software and helping you to integrate it with your ecommerce platform to ensure that the data is correct and the outputs are providing you with the right level of support. 

We did exactly this for our client Mad Fashion, who moved from manual tracking of stock, sales and costs to Xero, which fully integrated with their existing ecommerce site to take the pain out of their financial tracking. You can read more about how we supported them as a Xero Gold partner in their case study.

However, you don’t need to go all-in; Kirkwood-Wilson Accountants offer ecommerce accounting services that are completely tailored to your needs. Not only are we a Xero Gold partner and therefore well placed to help you set up digital accounting, but we also offer a range of basic accounting packages that can be adjusted to fit your needs and the needs of your business. 

Choose ecommerce accounting services you can trust

If you are looking for an ecommerce accountant, we will work with you to understand the level of support that your business requires and make sure that you receive just the right amount of back-up and advice to give you the best chance of growth – without breaking the bank. 

To find out more about our ecommerce accounting services, get in touch for a free consultation on 01704 546 000 or email [email protected]

How ‘Help to Grow’ Can Help Your Small Business

This March sees twelve months since the pandemic took a grip of the UK. Over the last twelve months, thanks to three lockdowns, tier systems, and life-saving rules and regulations, the UK economy has taken a battering. Fortunately, the government has stepped in time and time again with lifelines for workers and small businesses. The latest action is the ‘Help to Grow’ scheme which aims to help small businesses learn new skills, reach new customers, and boost profits.

A bleak economic situation

Three lockdowns over the last twelve months has taken its toll on small businesses throughout the UK. Hairdressers have been shut for the better half of twelve months and the hospitality industry has suffered greatly, with pubs in the North West having been closed since the end of September. 

The situation is, quite frankly, taking its toll on the economy, but thanks to the government, the situation is not as bleak as it possibly could have been. A generous furlough scheme has seen employees be able to claim 80% of their salary while their workplaces are closed and self employed business owners have been able to claim grants through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

However, the government needs small business to bounce back – and fast! With Boris Johnson recently announcing the roadmap out of lockdown and brighter days on the horizon, small businesses need all the help they can get in order to be ready to reopen. Enter the Help to Grow scheme.

What is Help to Grow?

Help to Grow is a programme funded by the government that aims to help small and medium sized businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers, and boost profits. The twelve week programme which will start this June will be delivered by business schools who have all the knowledge required to support small business leaders to develop their strategic skills.

Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, the Help to Grow programme will combine a practical curriculum, with 1:1 support from a business mentor, peer-learning sessions, and an alumni network.

How much does Help to Grow cost?

If you think Help to Grow will be a great way for your business to increase productivity, improve performance, and cut costs, you can simply register online to sign up. The scheme is subsidised by 90% by the government, so Help to Grow costs only £750 to attend.

Who can attend Help to Grow sessions?

Help to Grow has been designed with business leaders in mind, therefore participants should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business. For example, you could send your Chief Executive or Finance Director. 

Sadly, charities are not able to register for Help to Grow. However, there are other initiatives available for businesses such as these. 

Who can attend Help to Grow sessions?

Suitable for UK businesses from any sector that have been operating for more than one year, Help to Grow can help your small business in a number of different ways.

  1. Improve business performance

With key modules covering financial management, innovation, and digital adoption, by the end of the programme participants will develop a tailored business growth plan to lead their business to its full potential. This in turn should help your small business improve its performance, increasing profitability!

  1. Help you save time

Help to Grow will advise you on all things digital, including digital accounting software which can help you save time in the day to day running of your business. More time saved means more time to grow your business and profits – which can only be a good thing!

  1. Cut costs

With staff costs, rent and business insurance rates, one thing is certain: running a small business is costly. The Help to Grow scheme will help advise you on areas where costs can be cut, giving you the opportunity to grow in other ways, perhaps by expanding your team or putting money into developing new products.

Find out more about Help to Grow

Find out more about the Help to Grow scheme, including whether your small business is eligible and how to register by visiting the Help to Grow campaign page on the government website. 

Kirkwood Wilson are Local accountants in Lancashire

How to protect your cash flow following challenging times

Cash flow is king in all businesses, but for small businesses, when times are tight and cash is expensive to borrow, it’s more important than ever to be in control of your cash flow and plan for the future. We take a look at why managing cash flow is important and how you can go about managing cash flow in a small business.

Why is managing cash flow important?

One of the things that can seem strange when first starting a business is that even if your business is making a profit, it can still end up in trouble through lack of cash. 

Whilst profit is important, knowing where your break-even point is will help you to manage your business and ensure long-term growth and success. Even so, breaking even is not the key factor in the day-to-day running of a business because it exists on paper rather than in the bank. 

By adequately managing cash flow in your small business, you ensure that you have enough in the bank to be able to afford to pay your suppliers, your staff and yourself. If you have more money leaving your bank account than arriving into it for any sustained period, you will not have the available cash flow to make critical payments. 

How can small businesses protect their cash flow?

There are a number of ways to manage cash flow in a small business to allow for greater protection. Some of these include:

Keeping a cash flow forecast:

A cash flow forecast is important. It predicts how much cash will be available to the business at any given time and is usually based on projected sales versus projected costs. Based on this forecast you would adjust your expenditure to ensure that the amount of cash in the business is not depleted, whilst focusing on controlling debtor days (the speed at which your customers pay you). The better you can forecast the sales, limit expenditure and control collection the more robust your cash flow will be.

Insurance:

Credit insurance protects against bad debt and debtor insolvency. If a customer doesn’t pay your invoice the insurance will cover any goods or services you have supplied in line with designated credit limits.

Managing creditors and debt collection:

Keep on top of monies owed to you by your customers by placing an expectation on them from the start about their payment terms and then using reminders and regular chases. Use a set of standard criteria to judge whether to allow credit and enforce those standards to protect your own interests. 

There are ways of encouraging clients to pay faster using incentives, especially useful if you have customers who are regularly letting you down but you do not want to remove or reduce their credit. If you can’t do debt collection internally there are external debt collection services that will assist with late payments and bad debt. Outsourcing your credit control can improve collection times and debt collection agencies can also be tasked with recovering outstanding invoices from non-payers.

Managing creditors:

Negotiate good terms with your suppliers by making your payment timescales as long as you can in order to maximise the time you can hold onto that cash and collect your own debt. However, be aware of any penalties for late payment; don’t increase your outgoings by overextending a supplier’s goodwill. 

Invoice financing:

This is basically borrowing against unpaid invoices. Once the invoice is sent to the customer you have access to an amount of the invoice value – although usually quite an expensive service, it greatly improves cash flow.

Reconcile regularly:

Keeping accurate and up-to-date records will help you to keep on top of your cash flow. Accountancy software has facilities to help you with managing cash flow in a small business so make the most of it to keep the administrative work to a minimum and allow you to focus on the day-to-day running of the business. 

Challenging times or not, managing cash flow in a small business will not only help you to stay financially viable and in control of your destiny, but it will give you peace of mind and a feeling of security. When times are tight and your cash is depleted it can be worrying, and although it can seem easier to bury your head in the sand, the reasons covered in this article are exactly why managing cash flow is important; it will give you the best chance of ensuring your business succeeds in the longer term. 

If you would like support in managing cash flow in a small business, why not get in touch with us to find out what kinds of services we offer. Call KWA on 01704 546 000 or email [email protected].

Accounting Service 3

What to consider when starting a business post-COVID

With many industries struggling as a result of the lockdowns and the changes in spending habits of customers during the course of the pandemic, many people are looking at the option of going it alone. Whether taking an existing skill and going freelance, upskilling for a change in direction, or branching out from employment because you have found a new niche market, there are a whole new generation of business start-ups in the making. We explore what to consider when starting a business to give you the best chance at success.

Is there a demand?

It sounds like an obvious question, but even many large businesses fall into this trap. Having a great idea is one thing, but if nobody outside of your immediate circle wants to buy your product or service, it will be a short-lived enterprise. 

One of the first things to consider when starting a business is what kind of demand there will be for your offering. Do some market research; choose the right channel for your prospective customers and ask questions. If you’re looking at a B2C online business, get on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or If it’s a B2B business, use LinkedIn, join a networking group and start making connections. Now, more than ever before, there is a sense of community among small businesses and you will find that people are honest, and will be generous with their advice and their time if you find the right group.

What is your niche?

If you are planning to start a puppuccino van in your local dog park where there is a flow of cash-rich dog owners passing through all day looking for a treat for their pampered pooch, well then you can probably say you’ve found your niche. If you’re looking to become one of many providing a service like graphic design, marketing or accountancy, you probably need to think more carefully. 

What makes you stand out from the others? What expertise do you have that they don’t? The smaller your target market and the more specific your expertise, the more likely you are to gain traction.

How will you market your business?

When we think about what to consider when starting a business post-COVID, we need to carefully consider what that means in terms of timescale. General consensus is that COVID will not disappear overnight. Instead it is more likely that restrictions will be gradually lifted and the virus may well be with us for a long time to come. This means that digital marketing will remain critical.

If you have time available to you whilst we’re still in lockdown, use it to learn about marketing. Find out which channels your customers use, where they hang out both virtually and physically – and learn how to use the tools to advertise to them within that sphere. Think about the type of business name, communication style and adverts that might appeal to them. Get right under their skin so that when you are ready to launch, you know how to attract the right people to buy your product. 

Do you have the right skills and resources?

Find out what skills you need that you don’t currently have; anything from food hygiene qualifications to health and safety, website design, sales skills and accounting are all things you might have to touch on at some point. You don’t have to become an expert in everything – you can outsource all of the above to other experts who will help you, but keep in mind that their expertise comes at a cost. One of the great things that COVID has produced is a huge amount of online information and learning, much of which is free to access.

Employees

Will you need to employ someone? Depending on the type of business you start, you might be able to partner up with other freelancers, who may be more expensive by the hour than an employee but you can afford to use them only as and when you need them. If you do need to employ, start putting feelers out in the market to find the best talent so that interested parties are primed and ready when you need them.

How will you get paid?

Your customers will need to pay you for your time or products. If you are providing a service to other businesses then you will need to invoice them in order to receive payment. With HMRC’s requirement for all businesses’ finances to be digital, you will need to use software for this, which means finding a software package within your budget and capabilities. 

If you are planning to be a sole trader or a very small business, then one of the basic packages from a cloud-based accounting solution like Xero would be ideal. If your business needs are more complex, it may be worth consulting an accountancy services provider to help with the set up and ongoing demands. 

Don’t leave this part of the business process until you need to bill someone – get yourself organised from the outset and it will make the whole process run smoothly, allowing you to really relish that joy at raising your first invoice.

If you will be working with the general public and selling goods or services in person, COVID has seen the development of some great contactless solutions for small businesses. Companies such as iZettle have released basic card readers that integrate with Xero for a seamless and user-friendly way to take payments safely.

Do you need capital?

If you need cashflow or investment from the outset then consider crowd funding schemes or investors. There is cash in the economy at the moment but one of the problems is that people with excess funds are limited on where they can spend it thanks to lockdown, meaning there is a huge opportunity for them to invest in you. Alternatively, there are a number of bank loans, grants and schemes in place to help new and small businesses. 

What to consider when starting a business

When you start to think about what to consider when starting a business you may initially feel overwhelmed, but make a plan, set yourself small goals and start doing some research. If you approach your business in bite-sized chunks and you really believe in yourself you will make it happen just like every other business owner has done since trading began. If you need any help or advice with accounting options including cloud accounting software, why not talk to us on 01704 546000 or email [email protected]